`No evidence of Pak Army, ISI opposing Afghan-Taliban talks`

An envoy to Af-Pak said the reconciliation with Taliban is difficult.

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2010, 10:20 AM IST

Washington: US special envoy to Af-Pak region Richard Holbrooke said he has no evidence to support media reports, stating ISI and Pakistan Army are opposed to the peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban.

"I do not have personal evidence or intelligence that supports that interpretation (the reports) of what has been going on," Holbrooke said, asserting that he is "not here to defend the Pakistani military or to attack them”.

"They know our views on the importance of this area you`re talking about, and that is really all I feel comfortable saying on that issue, except to acknowledge the importance of the subject you`ve raised," he told CNN in an interview.

Holbrooke said bringing peace in Afghanistan is of "the most vital importance" to US security interests. "We have our goals, we have our strategy...it (terror activities in the region) directly affects the homeland security of our nation. And we are determined to see it through."

He said President Barack Obama "personally" oversees all the critical details related to US homeland security.

However, a "pure military victory" in Afghanistan as is "not possible", Holbrooke said, but added he does not the view the war-torn country as another Vietnam for American forces.

"I am not in the spin patrol of the people who are giddy with optimism on the op-ed pages of some papers or the people who say it`s another Vietnam and it`s hopeless.”

"It`s certainly not another Vietnam and it is certainly not hopeless."

The special envoy conceded that the Afghanistan issue can not be solved overnight and Washington is looking for a political way out. "It is going to be a difficult struggle. It has a political component, where you`re not trying to win this war militarily."

However, he said even "Dayton-type negotiation (accord signed between Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia to end the worst conflict in Europe since WWII) is also very unlikely."

"But some kind of political element to this is essential, and we are looking at every aspect of this."

The US is negotiating with many countries to deduce a solution for the Afghanistan problem, the envoy said adding "40 of them assembled in Rome with me a week ago”.

"I didn`t say we don`t want to win this militarily. I said we can`t win it militarily, and we don`t seek to win it militarily, because a pure military victory is not possible, as General (David) Petraeus and his colleagues have repeatedly said," Holbrooke clarified.

"Everybody understands that the Taliban is part of the fabric of recent Afghan political life... They were a government that controlled the country until 9/11," he said.

Envoy to Af-Pak said the reconciliation with Taliban is difficult as its chief Mullah Omar had been sheltering Osama bin Laden. "That presents unique difficulties to anyone talking about reconciliation. And this is just something that we have to examine carefully."

He added that people of Pakistan will also play a role in peaceful reconciliation.

PTI